Saturday, October 2, 2010

Different Perspectives.

A few weeks ago, I came across an inevitable bump in the road. I'm finding that running a business independently is all about risks, gains, losses, failures, successes and a million other complete opposites. But really, no matter HOW MANY times you hear about life lessons and dealing with hard situations you can never fully understand until you deal with it first hand....
Several weeks ago, I found myself at a consultation with a bride and her mother. The bride was very young and her mom was there to oversee the booking and make the payment. Everything was going well, your average consultation....we talked about the wedding, life, the photography itself, and even had a few laughs. Nothing out of the ordinary. By the time I left, I had a signed contract and a $500 check for the retainer fee in hand, to reserve their day. The bride even followed up a few hours after, letting me know that she was so excited to have me locked in as her photographer. Things were lookin good!
So it's safe to say I was pretty surprised when I checked my phone later that night and found a missed call from an unfamiliar number and a pretty angry voicemail. It turned out to be from the bride's father, saying that himself and the groom were both "furious" about the cost of my services and that they weren't even getting an album. He said they wanted a refund, and we would need to get this "taken care of" within 24 hours. I sat in a daze, wondering if I had really just heard what I thought I could something great turn bad in just mere hours??? I had no idea how to handle this situation.
The first thing I decided is that I would not call her father back. I would not discuss terms of the contract with someone who had no part in the booking. But the big question was how was I going to deal with their demand for a refund when the contract clearly stated that the retainer is NON-REFUNDABLE. Obviously I would keep it right? Cause I'm fully entitled to the money of course....I'll just tell them "Sorry, you already signed...either pay the rest or lose the money you already put down". Because it is MY money isn't it??? That's the obvious answer right????
Much to all of your surprise....and still to my own...I went the other route.... That money didn't feel like mine. That check sat heavy in my wallet, un-cashed. A name signed on it that already felt like it was no longer part of my plan. Just an ugly reminder of a fit that wasn't right....
I contacted the bride the next morning asking her to have her mother give me a call. Upon talking to her mother I let her know that I would return the money only because it was such quick notice and out of the kindness of my heart. I made sure she understood that I was giving her a refund she was not entitled to merely because I am a kind person and at this time, I felt it was the right thing to do.
We had a very brief meeting at the same place we had booked just the day before. I had her sign a cancellation form that I typed up specifically for this case, she returned the contract, and I returned the check. We drove away and it was done.
As soon as I put my car in drive, I already felt a huge weight lifted off of my shoulders. The slate was wiped clean....I had nothing left to attach me to this bad experience. But I certainly would not forget it. I knew something had to come from it....a learning experience.(and this super lengthy blogpost. ha!) But truthfully, I HATED the whole situation. I hated the roller coaster of emotions...excitement, fear, anger, rationality, remorse...I REALLY hated the insult I felt, listening to the voicemail from her father, making me question my worth...I also hated losing the bride, I really liked her and I know she had NOTHING to do with this whole situation, I feel bad that she got caught up in all of it(unnamed bride, if you are reading this...I hope you have a beautiful wedding day and please know I hold nothing against you!!!).
But from it all I learned a major unexpected lesson, something to do completely with being reasonable and open to diversity. That lesson is that we all look at the world from different angles and we must recognize that everyone has a different perspective. So maybe it was wrong of her parents to break the contract...and I certainly didn't appreciate the way they went about it, but I realized that her dad is certainly not WRONG for thinking my services weren't worth that amount of money. He just puts value on different things. And wouldn't it be more WRONG to expect every person in the world to value the same things? That would be no fun. I dealt with one bad situation...someone who would not spend what I charge. But in the 2 weeks prior to that, I booked 3 brides who were more than happy to pay those prices and see the worth in what I will give them. I also returned weddings discs to 2 previous brides who loved their images and I'm sure would spend the money all over again if they had the chance...
So I guess the lesson here is, don't take it personal. When you're so committed and closely tied in with your's hard to separate it from yourself sometimes. But you've got to realize that things will happen and you've just gotta roll with the punches. If someone cuts down your prices or something of the sort, it doesn't say anything about YOUR worth, but rather, it speaks of THEIR own perspective. In short, clients are like can't fully appreciate the right one until you've dealt with a couple of the wrong ones hahahaha.

"You don't get harmony when everybody sings the same note"-Doug Floyd

P.S. SOOOOOOOOOO excited that my awesome sister snagged me a copy of this little gem below, for my birthday. (which is October 11th in case you didn't know, but i'm sure you've had it on your calendar all year right?!?! hahaha). I've heard amazing things about this book from other photographers and I'm already loving it after one chapter!


  1. What a crazy story! Man that sounds awful. I think you handled it very well. It really puts a person in an awkward situation when people demand their money back after they've already signed a contract. I think your prices are GREAT and you do such an amazing job. Reading this really helped me understand that some people just place value on other things. Just because photography is important to me and I would pay a lot for it doesn't mean its important to everyone.

    I hope the bride and her family find what they want. Weddings are meant to be a season of celebration and happiness, not bitterness and arguments.

    Keep your head up Kristen!

  2. Look at it this way Kristen, he had to find a way out of it because he couldn't afford it...not because YOU aren't worth it! He did you a huge won't have to deal with him and his rudeness anymore! You can't make an unhappy person happy...that's not your job. Taking awesome pictures is your job! Don't question your are worth MORE than what you charge for your services! There are lots of happy brides that can attest to that! Why give this man one more second of your precious thoughts. Chalk it up as a learning experience and charge on. You my dear...are a wonderful, kind, talented and awesome person with a HUGE heart!

  3. WOW girl that is just crazy! People are just so immature with the way they handle things sometimes. Its not you thats for sure! You are totally worth every penny you charge. Keep your head up <3